It's strange, but prior to me, there were no artists that I know of on either side of my family. There was the well-known English illustrator Harold Earnshaw who was married to the illustrator Lucie Mabel Atwell, but even though I'm into genealogy, I have yet to find a link between my family and his. My Earnshaw family originated in Yorkshire before immigrating to New Zealand...but as far as I can tell, every Earnshaw originated in Yorkshire where the name is recorded in the poll tax as early as the 1300's. So undoubtedly, Harold and I shared a common ancestry.
My grammar school report cards all said, 'Adele loves her handicrafts'. Back in 1950's New Zealand, little girls learned to darn socks and do embroidery as part of the school curriculum. And no, I was not born in the dark ages. Perhaps if I were born at a later date someone would have noticed my inclinations towards art but it wasn't until high school that a teacher noticed my interest. I did not take art in high school - only crafts classes. Why not art? Because I thought that artists were born that way. I didn't realize that the only necessary requirement was determination and that one could learn how to draw and paint. So in high school, where I practically majored in potter's wheel, my teacher gave me a brochure for an art school and encouraged me to approach my parents about considering art as a career.
I knew better. My parents were supportive but deadly practical. "And how do you think you're going to earn a living"? So the brochure went into the trash and after one miserable semester of junior college, I joined the airlines as a flight attendant. My father was a private pilot so I took flying lessons in a Piper 140 and soloed at the age of 17. So why did it never occur to me to finish my flying license and go for my commercial rating so that I could be in the front of the aircraft instead of slinging coffee in the back? Probably because I was a product of the times - and women commercial pilots were only starting to appear.
Seven years later, I went on a year-long maternity leave from my job as a flight attendant. This is when I found painting! What a luxury....a year off! The week I went on leave, I received a brochure on adult education in the mail. I signed up for two classes.....ceramics and beginning watercolor.
The watercolor class was taught by was now-best-buddy Joe Garcia. I waddled into class, watched Joe do a demo of pine trees - and that was it. He said, 'you can do this too'. I was hooked. I sold my first painting a year later and ten years later, by then a single mom, started painting full time.
My important lessons: My Dad always said, 'you need three things to achieve; desire, tenacity and effort'. I have all three. Joe Garcia said, 'you can be an artist' and I believed him.
Shane, the baby I was expecting when I took Joe's beginning watercolor class must have been listening in utero because 20+ years later, he graduated from Joe's alma mater, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, with a degree in illustration. Perhaps some of Harold Earnshaw's genes are in his DNA. Shane does freelance commercial work, mainly book covers, for the major publishers.
So now the family has two artists.....my son and me.
I knew that my sister had artistic ability, but she placed greater value on security than I did and declined my offers to give her some painting lessons. She is a very successful realtor/broker in Frisco, Colorado. But four years ago, she gave in to my pressure and sat in on one of my workshops. Now she hangs in several galleries and sells like hotcakes. You can see her work at www.joannehansonart.com or read about her journey to becoming an artist on her blog. She's even retiring early so that she can paint full time. So now the family has three artists.
Which leads me to my brother, Cameron Earnshaw. Cameron's interests were always in music. Mine were too, but I can't sing, therefore I paint. Cameron always had a second job playing keyboard in smokey bars on weekends. He dabbled in song writing, but not until recently did he decide to do something about it. Within a year or two of seriously pursuing songwriting, he has a contract with a Nashville publisher. Way to go Cameron! So now there are four artists in the family.
But it wouldn't be right to leave out my father who has published three novels in New Zealand, one of them is available on Amazon. It would also not be right to leave out an incredibly talented niece, Ally Hanson, who spends lots of time on her art but still hasn't decided to pursue it professionally. To sum it up, the members of my family were all left-brained and I was the one who was either adopted or born under a cabbage. But now, one by one, they have come over to the dark side. Isn't it strange how this works!
Anyway, this flying egret is the first piece I did for the 75 for $75 project. It's one of my favorite
pieces. It has been interesting doing bird studies instead of a complete bird painting. I've had to really look closely to see which elements are important - and which can be left out. I've found that a strong light source really helps. Wow, we're up to 32 pieces on the project. Almost halfway there and still 22 days to go! (and I have a nice little piece almost finished of a house sparrow that I'll post later today)
Adele Earnshaw - Flying Egret
5" x 7" oil on panel